25 January 2014

Vigilo Confido

XCOM: Maj Pyotr 'Odin' Malakhov
The recent XCOM remake successfully captures the brilliant squad-based infantry tactics of the original game, and surprisingly the graphical upgrade hasn't spoiled the gameplay at all. It's still great fun dashing for cover and attempting to outflank the murderous alien Sectoids, Mutons and Cyberdiscs. One of the nice touches in the game design is the effective random character generation for the player's XCOM troopers. Once your squad gains in experience and accumulates some promotions and new skills, you start to warm to your successful soldiers from all around the world - even if they do all talk with American accents.

Progressing through the various XCOM campaign missions the obvious and essential lesson is that your soldiers must never be caught by the enemy out of cover. Many of the casualties in my KIA list were caused by forgetting this rule, usually due to impatience and a general rush to take up new positions. Later on the rise of irritating alien mind control powers also ups the kill count, as soldiers have to rush the controlling Ethereal in the hope of killing it to free their squad-mate from its evil psionic thrall.

To give you an idea of the characters thrown up in a XCOM campaign, here's the roll of honour of troopers who lost their lives in the service of humanity against the dastardly alien menace.

Squaddie Wei Cheng (China, 3 missions, 2 kills)
Killed in crossfire by Thin Men in Mexico City graveyard whilst on Op Black Dawn, a bomb disposal mission.

Colonel Jan 'Pops' De Graf (Netherlands, M17 K21)
Caught in the explosion of a parked tank in Durban, South Africa, on a terror attack mission, Op Rotting Vanguard.

Rookie Fungai Mabaso (South Africa, M1 K1)
Ambushed in a three-way crossfire by Heavy Floaters during a terror attack on Liverpool (Op Shattered Tears).

Rookie Zhi Chen (China, M1 K1)
Shot while out of cover by an Armoured Floater on Op Dying Hero in Egypt, a raid on a UFO supply ship landing site.

Captain Galena 'Lockdown' Volkova (Russia, M1 K2)
Flanked by floaters on Op Stone Sentinel, a UFO crash site raid in South Africa.

Captain Azubuike 'Dozer' Ngelo (Nigeria, M9 K9)
Shot by Muton exiting mindmeld at close range during Op Black Gaze, a UFO landing raid in Washington state, USA.

Sergeant Jamie 'Bonus' Powell (USA, M6 K4)
Mauled by berserker on Op Twisted Saviour in Brazil, investigating a UFO crash.

Colonel Habika 'Witchy' Miambo (Nigeria, M31 K86)
Champion sniper shot in the back by a mind-controlled ally whilst raiding a UFO crash site in Texas, on Op Final Thorn.

See also:
Games: Crusader Kings 2, 5 May 2013
Games: Brogue, 14 April 2012
GamesSpelunky, 4 March 2012
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